I recently sent many of you a survey regarding my blog and the response was overwhelming. Anxiety and depression are real problems in our lives. To be honest, I’m not surprised. There’s a lot to be worried about.
While I won’t exclusively write on this subject, I do plan to spend a significant amount of time covering this from the Biblical text. I think it best to cover this topic with delicacy and care, but also to be bold in what we see God say about characters in His Word who dealt with it, but also the prescriptions God gave to engage it. So let’s pick this apart, piece by piece, and put anxiety and depression on trial, shall we?
TO CONQUER ANY SIN WE FIRST MUST UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Definition matters. The dictionary defines it this way:
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
I think none of us will disagree there. Anxiety is an emotion we feel that is combined with knowledge, or lack thereof. It typically is aimed at the future, but can be about the present as well. I think we see, under great scrutiny, a pattern of what anxiety brings and how to address it. There’s always a promise from God, objections from us, and a command to obey in light of both of those truths. But unfortunately, failure if we act on unbelief. But there is always redemption.
Unbelief is the true heart behind any and all anxiety.
- Promise: God promised Abraham a son. Once God established the covenant with him and promised that the son would carry the seed of that promise to the future generations, Abraham was most certainly excited. (Genesis 17: 1-16)
- Objections: Abraham was old (99 to be exact) and so was Sarah, his wife. The womb was well beyond fruitfulness. If it were to happen, it would have to literally be supernatural.
- Command: To be loyal only to God. Walk blamelessly before God. Be circumcised and all the descendants shall be, too.
- Failure: Abraham listened to his wife’s reasoning to believe that God’s plan was through his maiden, Hagar. This not only resulted in adultery, but also a violation of trust in God’s promise. Ishmael, the son through Hagar would ultimately lead to the generations of those who rebel against God’s promise (an entire line of people up until this very day!). Today, it mainly presents itself in Islam; a religion that also claims Abraham as its “father of the faith.”
- Redemption: Abraham is rebuked (Genesis 17:17-22) and then promised the true son (to the laughter of Sarah) by the next year. God gives Isaac to Abraham, keeping His eternal promise through the covenant He made, despite the faithlessness of Abraham and Sarah.
Moses’ call to go to Pharaoh
- Promise: God revealed Himself in the burning bush and to use Moses to perform signs and wonders before Pharaoh. This effort would lead to the children of Israel to be released from slavery in Egypt to be led into a land flowing with milk and honey. (Exodus 4:1-17)
- Objections: God has chosen the wrong man. Moses doesn’t speak well. What if the Hebrews don’t believe him? How can he satisfy their skepticism? Doesn’t God know who Pharaoh is? Doesn’t God realize how powerful Egypt is?
- Command: God ordained Aaron to serve alongside him and to go and speak the words that God will choose. God promises to be with them “I, even I, will be with you.” Exodus 4:15
- Failure: Moses informs his fellow Hebrews about what will happen and to cease labor. They are in turn doubly punished and made to work even harder than before. Moses then returns to God and says “O Lord, why have you brought harm to these people? Why did you ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and you have not delivered Your people at all.”
- Redemption: Through many signs and wonders, God leads Moses and equips him with courage throughout the various plagues upon Egypt. Ultimately, God uses Moses to lead the people out of bondage and ultimately through the Red Sea.
You can clearly see just through these tiny excerpts of the lives of our heroes, that anxiety plagues us all. It’s a matter of believing what God has said or giving in to our greatest fears and worries.
Anxiety is nothing more than our failure to believe God and His sovereignty. We will discuss this in much more detail as we go along. Next time, we will discuss Elijah’s life and the numerous battles he had with anxiety and even sever depression. Stay tuned.